Companies are overstating green claims, consumers say

Sixty-five percent of consumers think some companies overstate their green credentials to sell more products.

Sixty-five percent of consumers think some companies overstate their green credentials to sell more products, according to research presented by industry organization Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) at the International Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday.

Almost 40 percent are also confused by green claims made by consumer electronics companies, according to Steve Koenig, director of analysis at CEA.

"So, in addition to confusion we have a lot of skepticism, in fact a healthy dose of it," he said.

Most consumers want to know the specific attributes that make a product green. "They want to know what it is in the box or in the product that's going to make it green," Koenig said.

Companies shouldn't be allowed to get away with just saying that they are green, but instead explain what that actually means, he said.

The top three attributes consumers associate with green products is that they are recyclable, energy efficient and made with recycled materials.

There are also rewards to be had for companies who can explain how and why their products are green. "Interestingly enough, green features are trumping brand," Koenig said.

That means a brand that consumers are unfamiliar with, but has good green credentials, could beat out a well-known company that consumers know aren't as environmentally friendly.

Forty-five percent of women and 34 percent of men say that a company's reputation and philosophy regarding the environment impacts their decision to try its products for the first time, and a similar percentage of consumers say the same regarding their willingness to continue using a company's products, according to the CEA.

Other attributes -- such as price, features and warranty -- are still significantly more important than environmentally friendly attributes.

Also, a little more than half of consumers surveyed are willing to pay a premium for green products, just like they are willing to pay more for hybrid vehicles and organic produce, according to Koenig.

Twenty-two percent are willing to pay up to 15 percent more for an environmentally friendly product.

"The take-away here is that green is increasingly important to consumers and they're willing to pay for it," Koenig said.

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Mikael Ricknäs

IDG News Service
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